50,000 Words in Different Editors

A quick primer to my 50k project: it’s a personal writing workshop dedicating a handful of short stories throughout the year to experimentation, check out this post. This year I’m dedicating those short stories to different word processors and text editors. The canvas you write on is the most important decision. It is also a pointless one. Endlessly chasing the perfect text editor is a hedonistic treadmill. So this separates experimentation to projects that can die peacefully. Rather than moving my entire workflow to something that I intend to publish.

I use Obsidian, which is hard to beat. However, Emacs, vim, and various other plain text editors are very tempting. These editors can last forever, being open source and a dedicated user base willing to keep them alive. Obviously, proprietary is known for sticking around, but it’s also known for ruining itself. I’ll try them out to make sure I’m not missing something better”.

Ground Rules

I have some must haves for any given software:

  1. Zero Distractions
  2. It does one thing well, writing fast.

Distractions mean a lot to me. I don’t want to feel like I’m fighting my text editor to get something done. I’m fine with learning new workflows! But there’s a fine line. Needless features are just as distracting as features I don’t use. This double backs to the life os” software like Notion, Evernote, Roam, and even Obsidian. I don’t need a second brain or life os”. I need to write. I also need that writing to be somewhat organized.

I’m subscribing to the Unix philosophy of software doing one job well. Just don’t tell Stallman I’m using proprietary software. Many options claim that you can write in them, but that doesn’t mean you should. Editing software like ProWritingAid or world building software like World Anvil. You can write in any text editing software, doesn’t mean you should.

Some caveats

Notable contenders I’m looking at using:

  1. Emacs org mode (doom Emacs).
  2. Vim (Neovim).
  3. Scrivener.
  4. Microsoft Word.
  5. One big txt file.”
  6. Good ol’ pen and paper.
  7. WordStar 4.0 (if it’s good enough for George it’s good enough for me).

There’s some other maybes” like Notion or using a typewriter. I’ve used Notion in the past and hated it. I’m not sure if I’m ready for the commitment of a typewriter. If you have a suggestion that meets the criteria above, I’ll consider it. reach out to me on mastodon: @wayneloche@dice.camp

Bonus meme: Final Draft or Fade In

I’m returning to my screenwriting roots! Yes, I could obviously use any of the other mentioned software for a screenplay. However, see my Unix philosophy bit earlier. If I want to write a screenplay, I want to use the proper software. Although, between you and me, Scrivener is great for screenwriting.

Some final notes.

This is a living document, so check out any updates on my now page if you care. It’s just that if you’re a weirdo that might care about text editors, you’re a weirdo that might use RSS,and you’ll miss updates. I may add other software, I may just ignore some. Either way, this is a living document, I’ll be updating it as time goes on.

And finally, don’t over think what word processor you use. Switching workflows or maintaining new systems often becomes the work rather than getting work done.

Posted on February 6, 2024

Previous post 50,000 Labours or Why you should write 50,000 words worth of short stories. This is not for those who want to write. It is for those who want to have written. Why do people want to write a book when they have free time?